Arts Academy principal resigns
Padgett worked at Rogers school for decade before abrupt move
One of the state’s highest-performing high schools lost its principal this week after her abrupt resignation.
Barb Padgett worked with Arkansas Arts Academy in Rogers for a decade until Tuesday, when the public charter school’s board accepted her resignation as high school principal, CEO Mary Ley said.
The board and Ley said Wednesday they couldn’t give more information about the reason for the resignation because it’s a personnel matter, and Padgett didn’t respond to a Facebook message seeking comment. But
Ley and a parent of a senior at the academy described it as sad news.
“Students loved her and she loved them,” Ley said in an interview, adding Padgett treated students and staff members like family.
The assistant principal will take on Padgett’s duties while the school searches for her replacement, Ley said. Padgett’s salary was
The academy is a public institution open to all students from kindergarten through high school. It provides courses in traditional subjects with an art emphasis as well as classes in music, dance and other arts.
U.S. News & World Report ranked the academy’s high school as the second best in the state this year, after Haas Hall Academy in Fayetteville, based on measures such as proficiency scores and graduation rates.
Classes began Aug. 1 for the high school’s 250 or so students, Ley said.
“I like the freedom and the excellent academics that come with a charter school, and we wanted something different and better for our children,” said LaDonna Humphrey, whose seven children from kindergarten through senior year attend the academy’s schools and take classes for guitar, orchestra, piano, art and design. “There’s pretty much everything you can imagine.”
Humphrey, who was also on the academy’s board around when Padgett started her tenure, described the former principal as a “pillar” of the school who was passionate about the arts and about her students’ success, helping them find the particular variety of art they enjoyed most.
“Barb, I would say, was the glue at the high school,” Humphrey said. “She left a might legacy.”
Humphrey added she had no plans to leave the school and encouraged other parents to stay as well.
“Her legacy will go on, and the school will go on,” she said.
Ley said a 14-month project to expand the school to hold around 600 students will begin this month.
“We are in a great arts culture right now,” she said, pointing to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and other cultural events and groups in the region. “There’s a need for performing and theater and visual artists.”
The academy began in 2001 as the Benton County School of the Arts; it became Arkansas Arts Academy and redoubled its art offerings in 2014. Padgett also served as interim superintendent that year after Ley’s predecessor, Paul Hines, resigned his post.
The academy began in 2001 as the Benton County School of the Arts; it became Arkansas Arts Academy and redoubled its art offerings in 2014.